European leaders warned Friday that Britain could become a formidable rival, just hours after a big victory by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservatives all but sealed the UK’s Brexit divorce.
But the EU chiefs, meeting in Brussels, also expressed relief that British voters had sent a clear message, bringing to an end the first phase of a crisis that has dogged Europe for more than three years.
Led by France and Germany, EU member states said they would pursue a swift trade deal with a tight deadline of end 2020, but insisted that any new arrangement must uphold European values and norms.
“There is no question of concluding a deal at any price,” EU Council President Charles Michel told a news conference after the talks.
“Negotiations are over when the results are balanced and guarantee respect for the different concerns,” the former Belgian premier said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Britain would be an economic “competitor at our door” after it leaves the EU and French President Emmanuel Macron saw a threat that London would become an “unfair competitor”.
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